Once upon a time, I wandered into a Vegas off-strip casino owned by Debbie Reynolds, and found myself in a corridor that contained the entrance to the showroom and a collection of artifacts belonging to Reynolds and other celebrities.

The place was quiet as death. The only people there were a woman maybe 100 feet away standing in front of the main door to the showroom and me. I was caught up in the displays, movie stuff, including items from "Singin' in the Rain." Among these was that iconic photo of Gene Kelly, Reynolds and Donald O'Connor strolling beneath umbrellas.

"Kathy Selden," I muttered, staring at the character Reynolds played.

"Hmmmm," said the woman, now, obviously, within earshot.

"Oh, I just said Kathy, uh, you're Deb, uh. ..." The casino owner smiled -- Kathy Selden, plus a few years, was standing in front of me.

"You coming to the show?" Reynolds asked. "You'll like it."

I explained in my halting but charming way that I had to meet friends, and, um. ...

Anyway, that was my experience with the woman who played Kathy Selden, and Feb. 8 I'll reconnect with a real, live "Singin' in the Rain" when I see Melissa WolfKlain as Selden, along with Keith Pinto as movie star Don Lockwood, Ryan Drummond as Cosmo Brown, Don's sidekick, and Mary Kalita as Lina Lamont, Don's co-star and a big, dumb stumbling block between Don and true romance with Kathy.


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It's a classic Hollywood-style romance, set at the end of the silent movie era, which is going to do away with Lina's career, due to her squeaky voice. So she tries to salvage as much as she can by undermining Selden.

This all happens around the fun Kathy, Cosmo and Don have tearing Hollywood apart with their antics -- ranging from Kathy's singing and Cosmo's clowning to Don's crooning and romancing, as well as his attempts to let Lina down gently. The piece is filled with delightful songs, including, "Singin' in the Rain," "Good Morning" and "Make 'Em Laugh."

Diablo Theatre Company's production of the musical will be staged at Walnut Creek's Lesher Center for the Arts through March 2. Tickets, at $49-$53, may be reserved at 925-943-7469 or www.lesherartscenter.org.

"SHERLOCK HOLMES -- THE FINAL ADVENTURE": Steven Dietz's adaptation of the 1899 William Gillette/Arthur Conan Doyle play opens Feb. 15 at Hayward's Douglas Morrisson Theatre.

Winner of the 2007 Edgar Award for best mystery play, "Holmes" combines two of Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, "The Scandal in Bohemia" and "The Final Problem," and sends the famed detective and his assistant, Dr. Watson, on a rollicking adventure.

During the mystery, the men find themselves entangled with a temptress, then in the clutches of longtime adversary, the malevolent Professor Moriarty.

The play runs through March 10. Tickets, at $21-$29, may be reserved at 510-881-6777 or www.dmtonline.org.

"OLD WICKED SONGS": Jon Marans' Pulitzer Prize-nominated drama opens Feb. 5 at the Lesher Center. The play follows a young American piano prodigy suffering from an artistic block, who heads to Vienna hoping to get back in touch with his music. He is assigned to an elderly vocal teacher, who gives him Schumann's song cycle "Dichterliebe" in an effort to help. While music is in the forefront, the story also deals with both men seeking to break from their past.

The show plays previews Feb. 1-3, then runs Feb. 5 through March 2. Tickets, at $39-$51, may be reserved at 925-943-7469 or www.centerrep.org.

Contact Pat Craig at pjcraig495@yahoo.com.

DON'T MISS

"Next To Normal": The 2011 Pulitzer Prize-winning rock musical about a mother's battle with bipolar disorder and the effect it has on her family gets its East Bay premiere at Pinole Players' Community Playhouse, Friday-Feb. 16; $20-$23; 510-724-9844, www.pinoleplayers.org.
"Disenchanted Bitches -- of the Kingdom": The new comical musical revue by Dennis T. Giacino plays Feb. 15-26 at Walnut Creek's Lesher Center for the Arts, on its way to an off-Broadway run. The satire deals with how storybook princesses have been misrepresented and exploited by animated movies and theme parks; $25-$30; 925-943-7469 or www.leshercenter.org.
"Down an Alley Filled with Cats": The Australian thriller, set in a rare-book shop, plays through Feb. 9 at Diablo Theatre Ensemble in
Walnut Creek; $25;
www.diabloactors.com.